Q & A with Dr. Ellen Tunnell

Meet Dr. Ellen Tunnell who started her career in veterinary medicine at CityVet more than 12 years ago. 

Q: When did you join CityVet? What was your role, and what is your position now? 

I was hired on December 9, 2009 as an animal care assistant. Then, I trained as a vet tech. In 2013, I was accepted to veterinary school at Texas A&M. I became an associate veterinarian on June 1, 2017.

Q: What made you join CityVet, and what made you stay for this long?

My first career was in sports journalism, which I found neither rewarding nor lucrative, especially at the height of the Great Recession. I have always been passionate about dogs, but I am not one of those veterinarians who knew my career path since kindergarten. In 2009, I got married, quit my writing job and moved from Chicago to Dallas. I visited every veterinary clinic within a two-mile radius of my apartment, searching for a career change. CityVet needed help. I stayed for 12 years thus far because of the people. Dr. Effie Giannopoulos and Dr. Jana Bryant are my most important mentors. I feel like they watched me grow up.

Q: How would you summarize your career journey at CityVet?

Dr. Jana Bryant performed my first job review when I was still training as a vet tech. It was a positive review. To me, it was a revelation that these brilliant doctors, whom I admired so much, trusted me to help them do their job. I was 28 years old, and I had never experienced working under a supervisor who was a true leader, mentor, or friend. After that positive review, CityVet became like home to me. Hard work, kindness, and a willingness to learn is predictably rewarded.

Q: What do you love about your job now?

It is important to me that my life’s work is honorable. To lessen the burden of disease and suffering in this life makes me feel fulfilled. Veterinary medicine allows me to improve the quality of life of vulnerable animals that are incapable of helping themselves. And it’s not a thankless job. Client gratitude is a highlight.

Q: What did you learn in your first role(s) at CityVet that makes you a great veterinarian today?

There is no room for ego in veterinary medicine. I was scooping poop and scrubbing toilets with a master’s degree in journalism under my belt. My work ethic and humbleness were recognized and rewarded. A great veterinarian must acknowledge what she does not know and re-commit to learning with every tough case.

Q: What CityVet core value means the most to you and why?
My paramount motivator is doing the right thing. CityVet’s leaders have proven that they care about doing the right thing. Simply put, they are good people.

Q: How would you describe your team at CityVet?

What is the best part of any job? The people. There is no perfect team, but I never would have stayed for 12 years if it were not for the invaluable support I receive. I have been lucky enough to work with the same wonderful vet tech, Rocio, since 2017. My job satisfaction is directly correlated with the friendships I have at work. I feel like I won the lottery.